Implementing a release management strategy can be challenging. You may from time to time find yourself thinking, “Umm, if release management is so difficult, why exactly do we need it?”
Release management is an important extension of SAP change control. It helps mitigate risk by identifying where risk resides and reducing or eliminating it as a practical problem. This improves collaboration as well. It’s also about accelerated delivery. Five years ago Gartner predicted that improved release practices must deal with a “New Normal” of accelerated business request delivery. DevOps, they said, would open new roles for change, configuration and release management. Gartner was right and we’re here now.
There’s another reason why release management is important. In 2015, we observed in the field that ITSM integrations with SAP change control are shifting rapidly from the back to the front burner, for good reason. As agile development pushes release management to build, test and deploy faster through each environment, integration bottlenecks need to be opened. Good release management strategy and process design go far to open jammed bottlenecks and accelerate change delivery. I believe both risk reduction and accelerated change delivery will influence release management process designs going forward.
We’ve applied our ready-to-use integrations with popular ITSM solutions like Remedy and ServiceNow in Rev-Trac customer implementations to facilitate end-to-end release management strategy, with impressive results. Bringing SAP change control automation together with service desk processes enabled one US retailer to move 78% more change in the first five months than during the entire previous year. It was 268% more after 12 months and 675% more after 24 months. If the cost of delivering an SAP change is $150 – $250 and we take an average mid-sized company’s volume of around 2,500 changes per annum then that 675% speed improvement is worth upwards of $2,500,000 every year. Now that is a successful strategic initiative.
All this is a roundabout way to describe how important release management has become to accelerate change delivery to the business and that’s the top reason why we need it. Other reasons include:
The ability to identify and control the what, when, where, and how for a release by knowing what environment settings, application requirements, and dependences exist in the development, test, and production environments.
Improving collaboration between teams
Opening a platform for the team to discuss blocking issues by examining definite and transparent processes.
Addressing complex operational infrastructure
The greater your operational infrastructure’s complexity, the greater the risk that releasing new functionality into production will break something – hence the further need for release management.
Managing parallel development
Operational infrastructures are shared environments, or more accurately, collections of shared environments where your IT delivery teams deploy changes. As more teams come into play, chances increase that releases will conflict without careful management.
Release management helps bridge the gap between development and Ops, eliminates silos and encourages more streamlined process design. It brings the entire team into the improvement process.